Profile on Matthew Harris
50 things collectors should know, Art Collector, 2022
In the exhibition Goo (2021) at Futures Gallery, Matthew Harris’ moves away from his salacious figurative style, to explore his interest in family ties and abstraction. The centrepiece of the show is a large scale soft sculpture of a heart called Big Love, that the artist made with his mother using possum skins, in connection to his matrilineal Koorie heritage.
“It’s my most personal show so far,” says Harris, “with the possum skin sculpture made in collaboration with mum, relearning traditional techniques that lay dormant in our mob for a long time for the sake of survival. We all cried when it was up.”
The artist also rebrands his cartoonish sensibilities with 7 canvases shaped like colourful amebas, where he mixes paint with his own hair, to depict a swirling mass of dripping DNA. In the words of the artist, “the gooey shaped paintings are stories with all the obvious imagery removed, obscure redacted, lost to time, or none of your business. Something beyond language.” Typical of Harris’ titillating humour, there’s also a concrete sculpture of two hands holding a pool of semen made of resin and plastic sperm confetti, called Daddy.
This exhibition is the first major and most explicit address of the artist’s First Nations heritage and in dialogue with abstraction. Even though this is an ongoing concern for Harris, this show offered an opportunity to centre this aspect of his work, in a less coded manner. While the hilarious perversity that characterises his ouvre remains palpable, Goo zeroes in on kinship with tender introspection. This offers a wider context to his practice, including upcoming works such as the suit of NFTS called Doomscroll, scheduled for presentation at the Melbourne Art Fair in February 2022, with Futures Gallery.